When Hitler came to power in 1933, he labeled physically and mentally handicapped citizens as dangerous to the genetic health of the German people. He initiated a compulsory sterilization program that eventually blocked 400,000 citizens from enjoying any normal family life. With the onset of war in 1939, he decided that resources should be reserved for healthy, worthwhile citizens who could work for victory. He then ordered a secret program to kill the handicapped. Approximately 250,000 citizens had died when the war finally ended.Readers in medicine, law, sociology and history will be intrigued by this compelling story of the brave citizens who spoke out against the immoral killing of the disabled. Many were arrested and imprisoned; some were executed. All the protesters claimed that the disabled were not "ballast people." They were people who deserved opportunities to contribute what they could for the good of the community.
Alan R. Rushton, MD, PhD, practiced Pediatrics and Medical Genetics at Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, New Jersey, from 1980 until 2017, and served on the faculty of Princeton University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He was elected Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and the Royal Society of Medicine. He has authored articles for The Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and The British Journal for the History of Science. His publications also include the books Genetics and Medicine in the United States, 1800 to 1922, Royal Maladies: Hereditary Diseases in the Ruling Houses of Europe, and Genetics and Medicine in Great Britain 1600 to 1939.